Harry Is Absolutely Thrilled by THOR!

Ain't It Cool News, 18 April 2011
By Harry Knowles

I’ve been greatly concerned about THOR. The trailers seemed afraid of revealing much of anything of Asgardian culture or dialogue. The WARRIORS THREE have really not existed in the least in the advertising campaign. I mean – let’s face it, if you’re a THOR geek – you want Asgardian awesomery. That’s the big deal. You want to see THOR wielding Mjolnir like we’ve seen in panels of the comic for the last nearly 50 years.

I woke up today, with my right eye having reacted badly to something in my sleep. I tried flushing it out, changed into new contacts, but given my screening of THOR today was going to be in 3D, I didn’t really have the option of putting my glasses on, then wearing glasses on top of glasses… that just isn’t what I wanted. As we drove through Austin, the light just made the eye a waterfall of irritation & tears. Oddly enough, as soon as I entered the Alamo Drafthouse South – and the darkness enveloped me, my eye felt fantastic. Once I put on my deluxe BNAT 11 AVATAR REAL D glasses – even better.

This is an introduction to THOR. This isn’t the holy shit, fuck LORD OF THE RINGS, Thor film that I think all real THOR geeks knows can be made… But… this is absolutely starting THOR off on the right footing.

The film begins with the “encounter in the desert” – We meet Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster, Stellen Skarsgard’s Professor Andrews and Kat Dennings’ Darcy while they’re studying some atmospheric anomalies that seem to point to something wondrous. A huge discovery when they bump into THOR wandering in the sandstorm.

Jane Foster wonders aloud, “Where did he come from?” and suddenly we’re taken to Asgard for a good long while.

Before I get into all this too deeply though, let me say that it just all works. Natalie’s Jane Foster, when she begins to fall for Hemsworth’s THOR – you believe it – you can see it and you may wish you were Natalie Portman, because goddamn – Chris Hemsworth has the charisma of a fucking God!

When you think about the opening of JJ’s STAR TREK – I just absolutely love Hemsworth performance. The second he hears the first cries of his child – the elated look of getting to hear his son’s voice before he dies… it kills me. I think it kills anyone that has ever had a child or dreams of having one. But the reason it works isn’t just Giacchino’s score or Abrams’ direction… It’s Hemsworth. He sold that to perfection.

Now he sells THOR – and THOR when we first meet him is arriving to be anointed the official successor to the throne of Odin. Odin is soon to fall into the legendary Odinsleep – a period of hibernation in which he is rejuvenated. Branagh keeps the camera fairly tight upon Hemsworth – and the reason is in this scene – in the costume, amid all the glitz and glamour of Asgard – the Asgardian fashion – it’d be easy to be instantly overwhelmed, but it is in Hemsworth’s baby blue eyes – that you find the soul of the God of Thunder. An arrogant, proud boy grown to some level of maturity, if not quite yet mature in soul.

Prior to this – you hear the story of the great battle between Asgard & the realm of Jotunheim, where the Frost Giants live. The Frost Giants had a weapon of great power, called The Casket of Ancient Winters. With it, they’ve decided to lay siege to Midgard aka Earth in the time of the Vikings – and Odin and the warriors of Asgard fought & defeated the Frost Giants – and banished their people back to the frozen tundra of Jotunheim. It is in this great battle that Odin loses an eye. (not graphically on screen, in case you were wondering)

Odin is revealed to be telling this story to his two sons… Thor & Loki – both as young boys. Even here, Thor is an arrogant little cur. Vowing to grow up to wipe out the Frost Giants forever, to ensure Asgard’s safety. Odin scolds him, saying that to be the AllFather – you must care for all and guard all of the great realms from danger.

Don’t worry – we’ll see THOR whupping ass in Jotunheim against the Frost Giants and that massive Frost Creature that you’ve seen in Television spots and trailers. He does not journey forth alone, but with his brother Loki, Volstagg, Hogun, Fandral & Sif. There’ll be a part of you that will want the battle in Jotunheim to go on for ages, to have the Warriors 3’s banter to have more time to endear the characters – but ya know what? The WARRIORS 3 are the WARRIORS 3. Ray Stevenson, though not nearly resembling me nearly enough to be Volstagg – he pulls it off. Tadanobu Asano’s Hogun is given the least amount of screen time of the 3, and not nearly enough gallow’s humor… but it is there in tiny bites. Josh Dallas’ Fandral looks perfect – again, you’ll want more time with him and the Asgardian Maidens – because they didn’t have the time to give us any of that. Tragedy, but if you watch closely at the end, you’ll see that Fandral made the most of the time he had with the girl he’s given access to.

For risking War with Jotunheim, Thor is banished to Earth as a mortal and Odin send Mjolnir to Earth as well with the famous incantation about being worthy. While THOR is on Earth – he certainly has some misadventures, but the “taser” and Hospital scenes are as goofy as THOR is ever shown in the film. They are brief moments of humility that he is in sore need of. Once he realizes his fate, he is truly humbled.

But this isn’t just an introduction to THOR – but to LOKI as well. There had always been competition between Thor & Loki – and LOKI just wants to be considered with at least the same level of respect as Thor. You can see it in Tom Hiddleston’s very subtle performance. He’s a trickster, a deceiver. He fights like a deceiver. He’s politically minded, telling everyone what they each individually need to hear in order to allow him to do what it is he needs to do. Loki has not yet been embittered by isolation. At the end of THOR – he’s in a position to stew upon how he feels he has been ill-handled. Oh – and definitely stick around post credits for a pretty awesome last bit that will lead to THE AVENGERS & CAPTAIN AMERICA.

Yeah – I’m a very big fan of this film.

The second you see Hemsworth’s THOR begin twirling Mjolnir – the classic circular way – and you begin to see what it does… I swear – I squealed like a little girl playing with her older brother’s cooler toys for the first time unsupervised.

When you see how THOR flies – it is dynamic and with purpose, definitely not Peter Pan. He’s fairly ballistic. And it reeks of cool. Seriously – you’ll behold in breathless wonder, The God of Thunder… Mighty Thor! (sorry – I’m a geek, what can I say?)

Now that the introductions are out of way, if THOR catches on with the masses, and it should… and on the other side of the AVENGERS, I hope we get a full on THOR in the magical realms adventure with the Warriors 3, let’s cast Balder the Brave… and let’s kick some Tolkien ass MARVEL style!

Holy shit. They made a very entertaining, engaging and fun THOR film. When Fandral lets out a laugh in the midst of battle – and is smiling… I just loved it. Hogun and his mace. Volstagg eating… Loki making duplicates… Thor swinging that fucking hammer. I’ve seen these things and they did not suck. They ruled. Oh – and Chris Hemsworth? He’s a star. How big? One that Natalie Portman seemed 1000% smitten with in this film.

I’m very happy. This is so much more of THOR than ever really hoped I’d get in a first THOR movie. Sure – Mark Protosevich’s brilliant THOR script – which was all either in the Viking age or in the realms of Asgard – was the great THOR film that I would’ve killed to see… but at the same time, the cast is cast and the sets are built to begin a tale of that scale. NOW – get me some CAPTAIN AMERICA & GREEN LANTERN & 1960’s era X-MEN action stat! I’m giddy about this summer!!!

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